In Germany, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has presented a draft law which, among other things, could penalize sea rescue with up to 10 years in prison. The paragraph is embedded in further tightening of asylum law. This must not happen!

Picture: RESQship

After the first protests, the current Interior minister, Nancy Faeser, stated that criminalization of sea rescue is not the intention. However, the new law would nevertheless create the base for this and would also affect other practices of solidarity. Last but not least, this draft law seems to be directed against migrant communities who live in Germany and might help their relatives and friends overcome the border regime.

The paragraph 96 of the Residence Act as written currently stipulates that people who derive a personal benefit from the “smuggling of foreigners” – for example, if they receive money for it – are to be punished.

This paragraph is now to be amended so that the mere bringing ashore of several people rescued from distress at sea or the repeated bringing ashore of people rescued from distress at sea would already be a criminal offense. In addition, other forms of support for people fleeing could also be criminalized.

Depending on the interpretation, anyone who gives undocumented migrants a lift in a car within the country, buys them a public transport ticket, distributes food or water, or offers them accommodation could be punished. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison! This inhumane paragraph is embedded in a draft law that criminalizes people on the move and tightens deportation measures.

In a joint statement, over 50 organizations are calling on the government factions to stop the law. Sea rescue and movements of refugees should be supported, not penalized!

Common call and further information (in German):

Petition (in German)

ECHOES Issue 9, November 2023 – English